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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Disqus issue with Firefox on Windows XP

Reader LaSargenta writes:

On Disqus threads that get very long at some point (in the case of The Sapphires thread, it happened where it appears on the attachment, if sorted from Newest on top) the white ‘page’ background disappears and all the posts are against the grey

The post she offers as a sample is the one about the Sapphires DVD, and this is what she sees:


As you can see, the white background of the blog post disappears, for some reason, and the background image shows through.

It looks okay to me on Mac OS 10.6.8 with the latest versions of Chrome and Firefox.

LaSargenta says she’s using:

OS is Windows XP, Install.txt file says App Version 9.0.1 GRE Version: 9.0.1

The company I bought my WordPress theme from won’t touch this issue because they say it’s about a third-party plugin (which is ridiculous since they’ve dealt with other Disqus issues), and Disqus says, “It’s not possible to troubleshoot this on Disqus’ end.”


I do not have the capabilities to troubleshoot this.

Anyone have any ideas? Anyone else having a similar problem?

posted in:
maryann buzz
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  • I haven’t seen any Disqus issue along those lines on Firefox and Chrome on Windows XP.

  • Daniel

    Sorry to hear you’re still having trouble with your theme. If it helps at all, the issue seems to be isolated to these HTML elements https://dl-web.dropbox.com/spa/o6eo6zi75y2ttog/x5mvn6z2.png. It’s likely something that needs to be adjusted in your site’s CSS and this isn’t something that can be corrected via Disqus settings.

    If you have any more questions in the future, don’t hesitate to contact us at http://disqus.com/support

  • PJK

    I can at least confirm that it happens with Windows XP and FireFox 23 (the latest version) when I scroll down the comments page. At a certain point (around Turdmon’s thread from 8 days ago which starts with “Maybe because everyone knows who Chris O’dowd is… which means more
    viewers? not hard to work out.. yet you go on about skin colour… grow
    up.” the page flips to a black background and then when I keep scrolling down it then flips to the background picture as seen in LaSargenta’s XP screenshot.

    Hopefully Daniel’s post below will help you track down this issue.

  • Yeah, it doesn’t help, because that “min-height” thing he highlights is NOT in my style sheet. It’s coming from somewhere else, I can’t tell where. And anyway, it should be overridden by this, which *is* in my style sheet:

    #entries {
    height: auto !important;

    But now I’ve also added this to the style sheet:

    #disqus_thread .element.style {
    height: auto !important;

    I have no idea what that will do, if anything, because I don’t really understand CSS and have only ever been able to make stuff work through trial and error. And of course I cannot check to see if this helps because I don’t have a PC.

    So, if you could let me know if that helps at all, that would be great. (Be sure to clear your cache so that the CSS is forced to reload.)

  • RogerBW

    Haven’t seen this particular problem, but I find the Disqus interface pretty slow anyway. The trick I’ve used for getting round it is to subscribe by email (I have Disqus set up to auto-subscribe when I comment), so I don’t have to reload the page to see new comments or reply to someone else.

  • PJK

    Just tried it out, but no dice, the problem still occurrs. If I collapse some of the comment threads I can make the problem appear later in in the comments. This would support the theory of Daniel about the fixed page length as all I’m doing here is shorten the text being rendered and thus pull “up” the later comments to the same location on the page.

    My guess (I’m a C/C++ programmer and not a web designer so my knowledge about CSS is limited) is that the properties that you are setting in your code somehow get overruled by CSS code that comes along later in the page.

    I would hazard a guess that the problem isn’t in the Disqus parts of the code, but rather in the “foundations” of the webpage itself. Maybe it is embedded in the framework provided by WordPress.

    It might help to ensure that the “#entries {height: auto !important;}” is the last thing that gets set on the page?

  • RogerBW

    Using Chrome’s or Firefox’s “Inspect Element”, it should be possible to see just what property is being applied at a specific point.

  • PJK

    I’m not really familiar with the Inspector built into FireFox. I did see that the height was indeed set to auto and that the calculated value for height was 42224px (when the background starts coming through).

    If I reload the page and don’t click “Load More Comments” (which I need to do a couple of times to get this problem to occur) and look at the value for height I see that it is calculated as 16438px.

    After the first load it becomes 23797px, next one gives 32473px and it goes for 42224px and the problem appears.

    I think that as soon as the position of the page exceeds 32768 pixels (I can only scroll down slightly after the last Load more comments, roughly 200 pixels at a guess) it is somehow no longer able to render the white field. This could be a limitation of the browsers CSS implementation or something very specific to XP.

    It could be that someone tried to be clever and used a signed short (16 bit integer, which can hold values from -32768 to 32767) to deal with the length of the element that now causes this issue.

    I’ve also tried looking at the page in Chrome on Windows XP and I don’t see this strange behaviour (I can get all the way to the first comments without issues), so my guess is that this is something that FireFox does in combination with Windows XP.

    I’ve remotely logged into my home system (runs Win7 x64) and FireFox there doesn’t exhibit this problem. Same FireFox version (32-bits), so I guess something used by FireFox under Windows XP is causing this problem.

  • It might help to ensure that the “#entries {height: auto !important;}” is the last thing that gets set on the page?

    And how do I do that?

  • PJK

    I think you can safely ignore that remark, since it’s not relevant. See my reply to RogerBW below.

  • So you’re saying that there’s nothing I *can* do to fix this?

  • RogerBW

    I’m guessing not — the Disqus content is getting longer than the CSS layout engine can account for. To fix this within the existing layout would take a change at Disqus such that page lengths couldn’t grow indefinitely.
    I think.

  • PJK

    I think this is something that’s built-in to XP and/or FireFox. So solving the root cause seems beyond your reach.

    To solve it in the webpage you’d need to limit the page length to 32767 pixels max, but then you’d need to find a solution to spread the disqus part of the page over multiple pages.

    Since I’m not a web designer I haven’t got a clue if this is even possible or how much work that would be. I’d advise against it since the impact is fairly limited (XP, FireFox and a large comment thread are needed to get the issue)

    The solution for LaSargenta is to either use a different browser (probably not something she’d want to do just for this) or folding the parts of the comments she can ignore when reading the other comments. This shortens the contents and if shortened enough should avoid this issue on FireFox.

    So no, you can’t really fix it.

  • LaSargenta

    I’ll start collapsing the threads. You are right in that I don’t want to use another browser. IE takes really, really long to load these pages. Too long to read during breaks. Disqus is slow enough already. I’ve taken to generally avoiding sites that use Disqus except for this one.

    However, interestingly it doesn’t seem to be happening in IE w/ WindowsXP. Also, other sites that use Disqus (like CNN) that I occasionally look at but that, obviously, don’t use WordPress, don’t seem to have this problem. They’ve got *other* problems that I think are Disqus-specific and mostly just annoying, but not that one.

    Thanks for trying to help MAJ on this.

  • I’ve taken to generally avoiding sites that use Disqus except for this one.

    Crap. I wish there was another solution.

  • RogerBW

    I’m assuming taking comments back in-house would be a big drain on your time and server capacity.

  • PJK

    You could try Google Chrome. I’m using it as an alternative browser for those sites that cause issues with FireFox on my Windows XP work machine and it doesn’t have the problem that FireFox has with the Saphires comment thread.

    I personally only use IE for our company websites, since they seem to have dependencies on IE specific HTML codes. Though I’m seeing a slow changeover now, so I might be able to stop using it real soon.

  • LaSargenta

    I haven’t wanted to use Chrome ’cause when it was first being touted all over the place, it seemed like a high pressure sales pitch and I assumed it would be tracking the hell out of me — as if anyone else doesn’t already **rollseyes** — and I didn’t want to spend the time learning it so I could fix the settings to my liking. Maybe I should get over this. I just have a lot of other stuff to do and don’t want to spend time learning new software that isn’t vital to my work, no matter how small. :-( Structural analysis programs suck up enough time.

  • LaSargenta

    Hey, it’s not keeping me from here. There’s other draws.

  • shadow44

    Thank you Firefox. I left that slow IE8 browser in XP. Now my browser with Firefox runs real fast with XP. So many extras can be use running Firefox with XP. I hope they don’t join the bandwagon and drop XP too. Because I would be lost. I am not planning on dropping XP come Doomsday 5-8-2014.

  • RogerBW

    If you do consider Chrome, I recommend looking at Chromium instead — it loses some of the functionality, but you can turn off the Google tracking.

  • I felt the same way about switching from Firefox — which couldn’t cope with all the tabs I keep open — to Chrome, but it turned out to be really easy, and I didn’t run into any issues at all.

  • I’m glad. But still, it shouldn’t be this difficult.

  • I’m not sure. It was MT that had a problem with comments and put too much load on the server. But I’m afraid to try. :-(

  • Just FYI, that doesn’t really help. My CSS appears to be fine. It looks like it’s a Firefox problem that cannot be resolved.

  • guest

    Chrome browser on Android tablet does the same. White background from below this textbox.

  • LaSargenta

    Well, in your copious spare time, if you get the urge, remember, you used to have a Latest Comments page that was 100 comments long. I loved that. I don’t always get to check in every day, the conversation are a big part of this place and I like seeing what people have been saying.

  • That Latest Comments thing was a function of Movable Type. I don’t know that I’d be able to do the same if I dumped Disqus and used WordPress’s native comments.

  • Chrome/Android does the same as what? Cuz if you’re getting a white background, that would seem to be okay. Is it not okay?

  • At last, someone comes up with the “right” asnewr!

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